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World & Nation

U.S. cameraman gets same experimental Ebola treatment as Texas patient

Ebola in the United States
Ashoka Mukpo is placed into an ambulance Oct. 6 after arriving in Omaha, Neb. The American video journalist, who contracted Ebola while working in Liberia, was taken to Nebraska Medical Center for treatment.
(James R. Burnett / Associated Press)

A U.S. cameraman being treated in Nebraska for the Ebola virus is now receiving the same experimental treatment as Thomas Eric Duncan, the Liberian national who became sick with the disease after traveling to Texas last month.

Ashoka Mukpo, a freelance journalist working for NBC News, arrived at Nebraska Medical Center in Omaha on Monday, after being evacuated from Liberia.

Hospital officials said Tuesday that Mukpo is being treated with the drug brincidofovir, manufactured by North Carolina drug company Chimerix.

He is the second known patient to receive the medicine.

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“After looking at the data on this drug, collaborating with the CDC and FDA and speaking with the patient and his family, we decided this was currently our best option for treatment,” said Dr. Phil Smith, medical director of the hospital’s Biocontainment Unit.

Officials at Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital in Dallas said Monday that Duncan had begun receiving the drug. He is in critical but stable condition and is on a ventilator and receiving dialysis, doctors said Tuesday.

Chimerix confirmed Monday that it had provided the drug to doctors for “potential use in patients with Ebola.” The Food and Drug Administration had granted the request through the Emergency Investigational New Drug Application process, company officials said.

They did not disclose how many doses had been provided or how many patients could potentially be treated with the drug, but Chimerix spokesman Joseph Schepers told The Times that the company has an “adequate” supply of medication.

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The medicine, which is administered in tablet form and taken twice weekly, is an antiviral that’s designed to stop the virus from replicating.

The drug has made it to Phase 3 testing against two other viruses – adenovirus and cytomegalovirus – according to Chimerix, but has shown some promise in fighting Ebola in lab experiments.

The fact that Brincidofovir has made it this far in testing means it has passed initial safety tests required by regulators.

Mukpo is the fifth American with Ebola to return to the U.S. for treatment during the current outbreak.

In an interview with CNN Tuesday, Smith, one of the doctors treating Mukpo, said the patient was “reasonably stable” but that it’s still “early in the course.”

Mukpo’s father, Dr. Mitchell Levy, says the journalist is still experiencing nausea, vomiting and diarrhea. “We’re so happy he was able to get here in such a timely manner to give him his best possible chance of recovery,” Levy said of Mukpo’s return to the United States.

For more breaking news, follow me @cmaiduc


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